TALENTED WA Ballet soloist Andre Santos is a dancer with a beautiful gift for bringing characters like Peter Pan and Pinocchio to life over his last six years with the company.
His fear of ballet technique sometimes being overshadowed by storytelling inspired him to choreograph In Black for Genesis in 2014 – a season of short works created by WA Ballet dancers.
Artistic director Aurelien Scannella asked Santos to revisit the work for one of five pieces presented at this year’s Five By Night: Ballet at the Quarry season.
“In Black was my way of trying to stray away from any kind of storyline and just have people dancing and doing intricate movement so that audiences can see all the training we have is still there,” Santos said.
“I wanted it to be abstract, hence In Black focusing on technique; we work hard, push a lot and always need the little feeling of good competition to keep on pushing.”
Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil and now living in Menora, Santos said the latest reincarnation of his work had changed but the essence of the piece was still there.
“Some parts have been simplified or made clearer because when I did it for Genesis we only had two weeks and it was an 11 minute work,” he said.
“For this season, the cast is bigger (five male, eight female dancers) and it’s quite a lot longer at 21 minutes.
“I love where the dancers are taking it because at the end of the day, as a choreographer and colleague, there’s only so much I can do.
“I can give the movement but it’s beautiful to see how a dancer takes that and adds their own personality to it.”
While Santos, who trained at New Zealand School of Dance before joining WA Ballet, will not himself be performing in In Black, he will be onstage in three other works.
His ambition is to continue choreographing in the future.
“I’m still new at it and it doesn’t get easier; I still get really scared and freaked out,” he said.
“I find it very difficult telling people what to do, especially when I work with them, but I’m very fortunate I work with people who have such a high level of professionalism and are so helpful.
“I feel like I learn a lot more while I’m choreographing than when I’m dancing because you start to notice things about the people around you that you don’t usually notice.
“When you’re on the opposite side of the table to see how they work, what they can do and how they move their body is surprising and then you start to push them a little bit more.
“I’ve seen it, I know they can do it, so I don’t want any less than that.”
What: Five By Night: Ballet at the Quarry
Where: Quarry Amphitheatre, City Beach
When: February 5 to 27